Job Breakups are Real
By Katie McBeth — Originally published at femmeandfortune.com on February 15, 2017.
Let me start by telling you my story. It’s not a long one, but it’s a heartfelt one.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I’ve worked way more jobs in my twenties than most people have worked in their entire lives. It seems to be the constant plight of millennials to be stuck jumping from place to place before finding our footing.
I went through a total of seven jobs within a five-year time period. I was tired of working retail (despite my two college degrees) and I was getting desperate for a reliable, full-time career. When a position at my best-friend’s employer opened up — a local small business bookstore — I jumped on the opportunity.
I fell in love with the place almost instantly. I was surrounded by people that were genuine, intelligent, witty, and savvy. Plus, mounds and mounds of books. Literally a dream job. I never felt like I was really “going to work;” or at least I didn’t at first.
The first year was my honeymoon year. I was reading all the time, talking with excited customers about our favorite books, and falling more and more in love with my coworkers. We were a tight-knit family of book geeks and radical freethinkers.
By the time the second year began, there were some stumbles in the road. The bookstore, with all its success, had started a new expansion project. However, the employees were getting more and more burnt out, and the stress among the staff was getting palpable. With the recent addition of a returning boss, and the sudden departure of some senior staff, the whole transition was even rockier.
Looking back, I can see all the signs of a struggling attempt at change management: there was a serious lack of communication with staff, too much change over a very short period of time, and no preparation for unexpected issues. At the time, I simply assumed we would get through it, and the bookstore would be all the better for our jaunt through rough seas.
However, things didn’t get better. I was suddenly promoted, demoted, and then passed up for a raise. I was stressed, and it was obvious that the owners were plotting something different for the bookstore. Nevertheless, on that fateful March morning, I didn’t expect what was handed me.
I remember being excited about an event I had helped plan the weekend before for one of my favorite authors. I was excited to share the news with my boss at how successful sales were that night, and how excited the readers were to meet their author-hero. Instead, I was cornered in the back, and stripped of my title as bookseller.
“We’re looking at the path our bookstore is taking, and you are no longer in it.”
I was crushed; heartbroken. I cried all the way home and all that night as my friends came over to comfort me. We drank, we talked and gossiped, and we lamented the loss the store would feel without me there. I genuinely felt like I had been dumped.
It took some days and months of recovering, but by the time I was at my next job, I knew I was better off. As I reflected back on the rough road the last 6 months had been at the bookstore, I realized how little I enjoyed going to work anymore. The stress of all the change had made me dread going in every day, and the sudden swift adjustment in management was not suited for my style of work flow.
The honeymoon period had ended, and the relationship fell apart.
As it turns out, careers can break your heart, too. Thousands of stories around the web will describe similar situations: where the employee thought everything was going great, only to be suddenly dumped from their dream job.
Although every situation is different, I try to look back at mine and think of the ways it benefited us both. Workplace stress, for example, can cost companies thousands of dollars in half-hearted work and increased sick days. For my experience, the increase in stress caused my mental health to spiral out of control and I was regularly arguing with my friends and partners without realizing I was lashing out. The business and I were both causing each other harm, and although I didn’t want to give up, it was best that we split ways.
Job breakups really do happen, and they can hurt like hell when they do. But for your personal health, and the health of the business, they often times happen for the best.
Have you been questioning if the stress of your job is worth the effort? Or have things been going downhill with your new manager recently? Maybe it’s time to consider your options and part ways with your job.
No matter how much heart you put into the relationship, not everything can be salvageable. Cutting the toxic out of your life now can save you months, or even years, of potentially wasted effort on a dead-end relationship. Breaking up with your job may be extremely difficult, but you’ll look back on it later and be grateful that you did.